While on my mission I can be contacted at ashley.lynch@myldsmail.net

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Anything But Just Another Week

Well, it's been another week. Life continues to move on. Just another ordinary week as a missionary, which honestly means it was anything but ordinary.
Every day is different, full of new people, singular experiences and miracles every moment.
This week I experienced something in Ohio I never imagined I would. A family from the Marshall islands and the Philippines invited us over for dinner and oh my goodness it was so good. I never imagined that the next time I would be able to eat that food would be on my mission in Ohio! haha 

Anyways, the work here in Piqua is still amazing. There are many people to teach and we find more people everyday!
Something that made this week exceptional though, and what I would like to talk about, is how perfectly God has organized His church. We recently lost our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson. What an amazing man. He is the definition of a disciple of Christ, full of love, serving the individual, and always following the guidance of the spirit. It is sad to see him go, but nothing interferes with the Lord's purposes. It amazes me how leadership in the church transfers so seamlessly, but most things directed by God usually amaze me. 
I have an unshakable testimony that God directs this church. The doctrine contained in it is true, and we can trust that because there is a prophet, a mouthpiece for he Lord, on the Earth. That prophet's name is Russell M. Nelson and I am excited to learn and serve under his direction.
I love Jesus Christ! I am grateful that He chose to be my Savior. He is my friend, my support, my teacher, my example. I am grateful to be His missionary to help others come closer to Him.

3 Nephi 5:13 "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
What a fantastic calling! I am grateful to have this commission, to have a living prophet to guide us there, and a Savior that allows us to receive that everlasting life!

Also, we just had the best day ever! We got to go to the temple with some of our favorite people :) I love the temple!

I love you all, just keep smiling!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Who Needs Me Today?

Today I would like to talk about the word "help." By definition it is to give assistance, be of service, and improve the condition of. Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Half of our whole purpose is to help those we meet. Everyday we find ways to render service and help them improve the quality of their lives by giving them the tools to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a fantastic calling!
Lately I feel that I am truly understanding what it means to help, to give of myself for the benefit of others. This greater understanding is something I am so grateful for, because as I learn how to have greater charity I better understand the perfect love our Father in Heaven has for each of us as His children. Charity is a divine quality and as we strive to develop it we will inevitably become more like Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. I have never been happier, and I know without a doubt there is a direct correlation.

The reason there has been such a growth spurt for me in the development of this attribute is the insane number of people that the Lord has blessed us with to teach! We have been meeting so many prepared people, so many people who desire to make changes in their lives, who need what we have and know it. And it has been my pleasure to help them! Everyday that I have the chance to use capacity God has given me, and the greater capacity that He allows me to access, to help brings me true joy.

The highlight of my week was this Sunday, looking around me and seeing all the people that I love so dearly that we were able to help come to church. The purpose was not to have more numbers at church or any other trivial reason like that, but so they could come closer to their Savior by worshiping in the way He has directed and most importantly by partaking of the sacrament. I am so grateful to have such a singular and important purpose.

I know that as you go about your day with an attitude of "who needs me today?" God will lead you exactly where you are meant to be, to exactly the person who needs the help only you can give. 

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week! Just keep smiling!

Friday, January 5, 2018

One Decision At a Time

I bet you will never believe this, but this week was FULL of miracles! Didn't see that one coming did ya?
We probably had one of the best mornings I have ever had! In this weather (oh yeah, did I mention it's freezing? 

Outside Temp 1 degrees!
We are excited for the heatwave this Sunday, 30 degrees here we come!) not many people like us, and I am sure more people are home than answer the door. But the other morning we had put a particular street in our plans and had the faith to find! Well, did we ever.  The first house we knocked on was interested. It was actually really funny, she couldn't come to the door because she was holding their very big dog back, so we leaned inside and taught her. And she became a new investigator! Then the second house immediately invited us in (the frigid temperatures do have some benefits) and told us about some awesome spiritual experiences she has had in her life. She also was interested in our message and invited us back. THEN at the third house we met an awesome family. Their kids were so excited to see us and were telling us how much they love Jesus. I felt like a celebrity haha. They were busy but told us when we could come back. It is amazing how the spirit guides us to where we need to be. The first and only houses we knocked on that street were exactly who we needed to meet that morning!

I have to tell you about a very special family that I have come to love so very much. I told you a few weeks ago about the woman we met looking for a former investigator, who immediately let us in and recognized our message as an answer to her prayers. That is definitely in the top of my favorite experiences. Well we have continued to teach Jessica and now her children as well! I absolutely love her kids, they are the cutest things ever. Her daughters have started joining us for the lessons and the other night we brought them a Book of Mormon Stories book and they were so excited! They haven't stopped reading. Sister Holdaway and I were talking the other day about how we now have a better understanding of what it means and why it is important to become as a little child. Those girls ask the most relevant and insightful questions I have ever heard and they understand so much. Another experience that is one my favorites list was the other day when we were able to teach them about the Holy Ghost when one of them said "I just feel so happy every time you come over and I don't know why!" That was the best thing ever. They are truly a joy to teach. 
On top of loving to teach them we have built such a great relationship with their family. Her little ones are always excited for us to come over and they tell us they love us whenever we have to leave. It is so darn cute. Well yesterday was her son's birthday and they invited us to stop in for some cake and things, which honestly meant so much. It was a small gathering and when we got there we introduced ourselves to those we didn't know and there were a few confused looks. At one point, one of the guests asked Jessica "You said he had some friends coming over. Are those the friends?" pointing at us. She responded very quickly "well, yeah." As if his was a silly question. That made my day :)
They are just so special and I am excited to see just how much the restored gospel of Jesus Christ blesses their family!

Well, Happy New Year to you all! I would like to leave with a quote from the beloved Thomas S. Monson,
"There is no better time in all the world to make important choices than...at the beginning of a new year, for we literally become the product of our choices. Our choices determine our destiny."
May we all honor his memory by acting on his inspired words.
I would invite you all to ponder on the vision you have for this year, what you hope to accomplish and who you hope to become. My hope is that we will all make worthy goals and plans to accomplish that vision, so that one day our destiny will be to attain that divine destiny that is our Father's vision for us all.

Make this year a great one, one decision at a time! Just keep smiling!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

For God so Loved the World

This week has been FANTASTIC...lcy cold. As I write this, it is 1 degree outside. Crazy! Mornings are definitely hardest but we are still seeing miracles! We have been able to miraculously see Investigators who have been hard to contact. Thankfully quite a few people have let us inside and we have been able to have awesome spur of the moment lessons. It has been great!

This week we had the really neat experience to help a little with a live nativity. A family in a neighboring ward puts in on, and a country store that is basically a barn lets them use their building and it turned out great! There were lots of animals and we got to help kids dress up as shepherds as they came in (that was so much fun!) and there were musical groups every night. It was so cool and there was a very special spirit there. One of the nights they had wanted a missionary choir and we really wanted to do it! We tried and no one was really helping getting it organized. But we had already promised, so Sister Holdaway and I and two companionships of Elders sang. By the time it was our turn everyone had pretty much cleared out, but we sang in the loft of the barn for the cow and the sheep. There was a very special spirit that accompanied us that night. I can't think of anything to honor the Savior more than singing hymns of praise to his birth in a humble setting such as that. It was amazing.
Something we are focusing on as a district is finding through members, to do this we decided we would focus on teaching families about the Restoration which is usually the first thing we teach to our investigators. When we were given this challenge, Elder Bagley, our district leader, promised it would produce some incredible experiences and that is definitely true. Those lessons, with people already members of the church, have become some of my most treasured memories as. We have taught quite a few of these lessons now, but one of my favorites has been with the Villers. I have talked about them a bit, but they are some of my favorite people. It was actually a little difficult to get through the lesson, we were all getting a bit choked up. Sister Holdaway was trying to share Joseph Smith's experience and the vision he saw and asked me to finish for her, but I had just as hard of a time. There are very few times that I have felt the amount of peace that I did sitting in their living room that day, and I cannot deny that those feelings came because of the intense spirit present there.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! It was a special day indeed and I had a wonderful holiday spent with families in my ward. They have all become my family and made it feel like home which I am grateful for.
I am grateful for this time that we have to focus on our Savior Jesus Christ. Something I have been pondering on lately is the fact that without Christ's life and the Atonement that He performed for each of us, there would be no reason to celebrate His birth. He would have been just another baby if He were not the  Savior of the world.
Merry Christmas!

Skyping the fam

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

I love you all, I hope you have a wonderful week and a Happy New Year! 
Just keep smiling!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Achieving Change

This week has been a blast! We have seen miracles like always and our days have been filled with fun Christmas things!

One of the biggest miracles this week has been teaching Jose. A few months ago we had met a man and could never get in contact with him, but we kept meeting Jose who he lives at the same address. He didn't seem too interested but we shared some with him and gave him a card with our phone number and church information. Well, after one of the nights that we saw him again he texted us. He said that he felt bad that we kept coming by in the rain or the cold and that he has never been able to invite us in, but since we have been so diligent he wanted to listen to what we have to say. So we set up a lesson and have had a few since then and he has attended a baptism with us! His English isn't 100% but he is understanding what we teach. He is a super awesome guy and very in tune with his spirituality, and the gospel is going to change his life! 

Like I said, this week has been full of fun Christmas things, like more opportunities to do service, and Christmas programs. I am so glad that even though I am not at home, I still get to do the fun Christmas things like setting up the tree and decorating. 
On Saturday we had our Christmas zone conference which was a blast! We got to so some service and fun activities. It was fun getting to be with my mission family as well as see my friends and ward members from my previous area who were helping out with the program :) Before dinner there was an adorable program of the nativity put on by some primary age children. It was so special. Something that stuck out to me today was President Russell from our mission presidency talking about the Celestial Joy we will feel every time we see the people we have served with, the same kind of joy that we will experience when we are reunited with our brothers and sisters after this life. Seeing those wonderful ward members today, people I have worked with, getting to spend the day with the Stratfords and the rest of my mission family brought me so much joy. And I am so grateful that God lets us feel that kind of love, and I know it has developed through rendering service and laboring in this great cause. 

I got to feel a lot of that Celestial joy on Sunday when we participated in a missionary choir for a Christmas devotional that all of my companions still currently serving participated in as well! It was amazing seeing all of them and I didn't know my heart could hold so much. You develop such a special bond with those you serve along side and when you are reunited it just fills you up. Seeing Sister Hall and Sister Speakman, the two incredible missionaries who trained me reminded me of all the experiences I had early in my mission. It made me realize just how long ago that time was, how far I have come. I am happy to say I am a completely different person and still changing. It struck me that changing in such a drastic way not only constitutes success on my mission, but our success in life. God's whole purpose in giving us this life is so we could gain experience, grow, change, and learn how to be more like Jesus Christ and the person he intends for us to be so we can achieve that joy God has in store for us. Our whole task in life is to follow Christ's example and the path our Father has laid our for us, and to let Him shape us and use us how He will. I am grateful for my mission, that it is showing me what it means to be a disciple of Christ, that it has put me in a position to be changed so drastically by The Master. 

These are Christ's own words found in John 5:30 and a statement we should all strive to echo in our own lives,
"I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
Seeking His will over our own is how we will achieve this change.

I would encourage you to ponder on what you can do to more fully follow Jesus Christ, and in turn be changed into who the Father meant you to be.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and a Merry Christmas! Just keep smiling!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Diligence, Faithfulness, and Prayers of Faith

Wow! Has it been an incredible week! We have seen so many miracles it would be hard to tell you about all of them. I'll just give you a few so you can get a taste of our incredible life as a missionary!

First of all, it snowed for the first time this week! It was so so exciting! But not it is pretty cold and windy, it's honestly exciting when it gets up in the 30's. But we are staying warm and doing great, and neither of us have slipped yet! That is a miracle in itself :) haha

The first day it snowed we had the most incredible lesson, on someone's porch! That was really fun! It was awesome though and she is so prepared for this message!

Also, Grahm was baptized and confirmed this week!!! It was so so exciting to see him make such sacred, essential promises with our Father in Heaven. It was even cooler to talk with him a few days after his confirmation about the changes he has seen in himself since receiving the Holy Ghost. He is amazing!

We had the feeling the other night to try and see one of our newer investigators who we have a hard time getting in contact with and she was home! We had a great lesson and she has a desire to work towards baptism! AND she set up a solid return appointment which is something she has never done before.

The other morning as we were planning we came across a street we didn't even know was in our area boundaries, so we decided to go! After a lot of unanswered doors in the freezing cold, we met two really awesome people who lived side by side. It was amazing to see how because our conversation was guided by the spirit we were able to teach both of them and set up times to come back, and one of them was initially jut going to shut the door.

Yesterday morning was probably the highlight of my week though. We put a specific area in our plans and planned to try a lot of former investigators. We finished, but before we went back to our car Sister Holdaway saw a name on the map and felt like we should go try by. Well, that was probably the best decision we made all week because it helped us find Jessica. She immediately let us inside and we met her cute little family. She was very interested  in what we do and our message. We were able to share the whole restoration with her and teach about the Book of Mormon. Her response to us was "Where can I get one of these Book of Mormons?" We were so excited to tell her that we had one for her right there! She told us about her search and how for a long time she has been looking at different churches to know what was right, and was confused by how many versions of the Bible there are. She has been praying to find answers and while we were talking with her she said "I never knew my prayer could be answered by you two knocking on my door out of the blue." It is no coincidence that we came to her house that morning, God sent us there because she was ready to find her answer.

Some of those may seem like small things, but having a great lesson or stopping by at just the right time are tender mercies that mean the world to me. I am so grateful to be a part of this work and to be serving in Piqua Ohio at this time (I am staying another transfer by the way!) I know that this is where the Lord needs me at this time. We are seeing many miracles everyday and I know it is because of setting inspired goals, and then having faith and diligently following the spirit to make them happen. 
A scripture that I think relates a lot to our recent experiences is D&C 103:36
"All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith."

I am grateful to know that those goals are never our own, but that we are privileged to be engaged in the Lord's purposes. When we rely on Him we can be blessed to see amazing thing and experience miracles!

Experience some mighty miracles this week! Just keep smiling!

Monday, December 11, 2017

He Will Provide

 What a week! We saw so many amazing miracles, the Lord provided for us big time this week!

Lately a struggle we have had is helping our new investigators progress in the gospel, but this week as we followed the spirit and set goals we were able to help them!
Our friend David is doing awesome! We had a wonderful lesson this week with him and he is loving the restored gospel! He reads the Book of Mormon and feels the peace it brings. We had the chance to teach him the Plan of Salvation this week and it was so cool to see it answer some of his questions and that it made so much sense to him. We are so excited for him!

Two of our other friends, Clark and Diana are doing great! They read the Book of Mormon together and love learning. Last week we had an amazing lesson with them definitely let by the spirit and they better understand our purpose. This week we had another amazing lesson. We taught them some of God's plan for us and it made so much sense to them. AND here is a huge miracle, they accepted a baptismal date! We didn't know if they were ready for that quite yet, but the spirit told us otherwise and they were excited to accept a date! We are so so stoked for them!

Other super awesome news! Grahm had his last lesson yesterday and is getting baptized tomorrow! We could not be more excited :)

So many of our miracles this week happened during our power hours, those are the hours between 10am and 12. There were two days where we found two new investigators during those hours! 
The other day our morning started off pretty bad. There was a woman who invited us back and we were just having a normal conversation about gospel related things, but as soon as we even started to share about the restoration the situation became very contentious. It was awful, but we kept on going that morning and we found this awesome couple! They invited us in immediately and recognized that our message is what they have been looking for. They were so grateful that we knocked on their door and so were we. 
Yesterday morning was also really cool! We planned on doing service at a clothing bank outside of our area, but we forgot our phone to ask for permission so we chose to be obedient and went home to get it. And we were blessed for that obedience! A little while back our super solid investigator Ed fell off the face of the earth. Sister Holdaway had the thought to stop and see if he was home since we were driving by anyways and he was home!!!! It was awesome!

It is amazing how aware the Lord is of every detail of our lives and knows the needs of each of his children. When we have desires to follow him, are diligent and obedient he will provide.

I love you all so much! Just keep smiling!

And in case you missed my light the world posts on Facebook, here are some updates on what we have done to light people's worlds :)